in Europe

How can EU Member States uphold the best interests of the child after their return?


June 24, 2014, Budapest, Hungary: 65 Professionals from 18 countries, from both government, NGOs and international organisations have gathered in Budapest to discuss possible mechanisms for post-return monitoring, i.e. a framework by which countries that have returned children can monitor their well-being in the country of origin. NGO partners from six countries of origin in South Eastern Europe presented their findings working with 120 children returned from EU countries they have identified and followed for 18 months. They highlighted the challenges these children face in reintegration, namely access to education, language barriers, marginalisation and exclusion. They have highlighted the type of work (psycho-social assistance, acquiring official documentation, language courses, catch-up classes) that have had a positive impact on the reintegration of these children.
Participants discussed proposals on how EU Member States could monitor the situation of such children, while also accompanying countries of origin to improve their reintegration assistance: proposals were made for new legal frameworks regulating communication between countries of origin and destination, including the obligations of EU Member States in providing pre-return assistance and ensure pre-return communication with countries of origin. All participants agreed that a possible future monitoring of the situation of children will need to be done by an independent entity – and preferably financing for this should not be project-based, to ensure systematic monitoring. Professionals also agreed that NGOs, INGOs and countries of origin’s authorities will have to advocate for modifications in current legislation to include stronger safeguards for children returnees – both those returned unaccompanied and those returned in family.
Discussions have started and will continue to see how the developed monitoring framework of a similar initiative by HIT Foundation, NIDOS and MICADO Migration can be combined with the current plans.
The conference was organised in the framework of the project ‘AIDAH: Monitoring the Situation of Children Returned from EU Countries’, co-funded by the European Union’s Return Fund.